"Research shows that relevant, organic content is 68 percent more likely to be utilized than paid content," according to Amy Callahan, co-founder and COO of Collective Bias. "Brands and retailers need it, they can't create it all on their own, and there are millions of people on the web already talking about brands."
Collective Bias helps bring all of these people and conversations together. With Callahan's shopper marketing expertise and her co-founder John Andrews' leadership background, the two co-founded the social shopper media startup in 2009.
The pioneer startup rounds up brand advocates (i.e., bloggers or influencers) through its proprietary Social Fabric community and connects them with brands for interactive campaigns. "We have around 2,000 members in our community with an average reach of 50,000 each," Callahan said. "Our total aggregate, multichannel reach is around 85 million."
A study published by Nielsen found 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from their peers over messages directly from a brand. "We are helping to create those recommendations by producing high-quality content that consumers can find anywhere they are looking for information," she explained.
Anyone can hire freelance bloggers, but Collective Bias takes time to develop real relationships. They are not afraid to lose a bit of control by letting their bloggers help build, lead and manage client campaigns. "You can't just send a blogger a product and tell them what you want them to say about it," Callahan challenged. "That isn't authentic for either side, and in the long run it doesn't help a brand grow true advocates or help the blogger grow their audience."
For example, Collective Bias called on a group of influencers for Bigelow Tea to increase awareness of their product in Walmart. "Our goal was to create content to educate and influence consumers about the high quality and value of Bigelow Tea, while also sharing the deep family history of the brand."
Collective Bias influencers applied for the opportunity based on interest, niche, etc. "We vetted all of the applicants and then selected the participants for the program," Callahan explained. "Program influencers were required to shop for the product, document their path to purchase and then use the product in a creative way based on the client's goals."
In Bigelow's case, content was created based on season and focused on showcasing "moments" shared while enjoying the tea. "By tying to key emotional occasions such as travel, gifting and even art, Bigelow made connections with customers, which enabled them to stand out among competitor brands ... not with fancy packaging, or price, but through heartfelt, relevant stories."
Callahan said the program produced about 45 million impressions and roughly 10,000 pieces of content-a 69 percent increase in online share of voice. "Bigelow saw a 14 percent and 22 percent lift in sales in January and February, respectively."
The startup produced more than 50,000 pieces of content and over 600 million impressions in June alone. "Our top priority is to continue to expand and own the social shopper media space to further help brands and retailers connect and engage with consumers."
Social Startups is a weekly Social Media Today column written by Shay Moser about the newest and most innovative social companies. Look for the next installment next Wednesday morning. Logos by Jesse Wells.